Innovation

Experts Say Houston Offers Medical Device Startups a Place to Thrive


By Christine Hall | May 11, 2017

The fireplace in the background may have been simulated, but the chat that took place this week at Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s JLABS @ TMC was definitely on fire.

A high-profile group of Texas Medical Center medical device experts that included William “Billy” Cohn, M.D., vice president of medical devices for Johnson & Johnson’s Center for Device Innovation; Arjun Desai, COO of JLABS and the Center for Device Innovation; William F. McKeon, president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center; and Nick Mourlas, senior director of new ventures for Johnson & Johnson Innovation, discussed topics from funding for medical devices to Houston’s innovation ecosystem, and even advice for President Donald Trump, in a fireside chat moderated by Lance Black., M.D., medical device innovation lead at the TMC Innovation Institute.

Medical devices are on top-of-mind lately, especially following the House of Representatives’ approval of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). A portion of the AHCA promises to do away with the medical device tax that was in the Affordable Care Act to offset health care costs. Opponents of the tax argue that it took funding away from research and development opportunities.

Whatever happens with the tax, putting new medical devices into the hands of physicians and patients is a goal for the Texas Medical Center and one of the reasons Johnson & Johnson is building the Center for Device Innovation on the TMC campus.

CDI @ TMC, which is slated to open in November, will bring in promising medical device entrepreneurs who will have the opportunity to get their products into hospitals, “… all without buying a single plane ticket,” Cohn said.

In addition to the offerings the CDI and TMC’s TMCx medical device accelerator program provide for the city, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner recently announced an innovation task force aimed at attracting ideas to Houston–and keeping them here.

“Many ideas have been born in Houston only to disappear to the coasts while following venture capital,” McKeon said. “It’s difficult for venture capital to find all that we have to offer in one space, and we are all about people understanding the opportunities here.”

Desai, a relative newcomer to Houston, echoed that sentiment, saying people had told him Houston was making progress, and he wanted to see it himself.

“Those easy wins we see out of TMCx, JNJ and AT&T are going to bring everyone here,” he added.

When it came to advice for entrepreneurs, here’s what the experts had to say:

Mourlas: “Find a clinical need you are passionate about, because it is going to be a long and bumpy road. That will help you when you recruit team members and investors, because they will want to see that passion.”

Cohn: “Pick a project you are into, be manic when you describe it and drive it like you stole it.”

McKeon: “Starting a company is one of the most courageous things you can do. It is often a lonely experience, not just for you, but for your family and friends. It is a seven-day-a-week job and it all rises and falls on your spirit.”

Desai: “At the end of the day, it has to be all about the patient first.”




Social Posts

profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

RT @BCMHouston_News: Trying to lose weight in the new year? Thinking about intermittent #fasting? @bcmhouston dietitian Emily Monfiletto vi…

14 mins ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

@Marissa_lara14 We're thinking of you, Marissa.

54 mins ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

RT @jmills1955: Annual Surgical Jeopardy ⁦@BCM_Surgery⁩ Residents vs Faculty. The Faculty have never won! ⁦@DrRosengart⁩ ⁦@kmattox1⁩ ⁦@drml…

56 mins ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Veterans ask, VA answers: Questions on electronic health record modernization. https://t.co/IkeHFZV0zn via #VAntagePoint

1 hour ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

103-year-old WWII Veteran finally gets the recognition he deserves https://t.co/shJIdq9Ju9 via @CBSEveningNews

11 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

Watch to learn how we’re enhancing the ability of patients’ own T cells to fight cancer. #endcancer https://t.co/sFMz5eExco

12 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

Today’s rising #livercancer rates have been driven by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is linked to obesity.But our experts are working with @ScrippsHealth to study an #immunotherapy combination to treat liver cancer and save lives: https://t.co/uwAhLH51uk #endcancer

13 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

College of Charleston looks to send dozens of Valentine’s Day cards to Veterans https://t.co/fFqeaN3T7o via @ABCNews4

13 hours ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

Dorit Donoviel, Ph.D., discusses taking risks in science and what the Translational Research Institute for Space Health is doing to help people in space with @InnoMapHou. https://t.co/wbML42L9Wb #space #spacemedicine

14 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

RT @UH_Pharmacy: Breaking: With 100% chance of rain for Wed, Jan. 22, the "Shine A Light on Mental Health" fair from noon to 2 pm has been…

16 hours ago
profile_image

Texas Children's

@TexasChildrens

For the second consecutive year, Transplant Services at @TexasChildrens was named the top pediatric transplant center in the US, performing a remarkable 106 solid organ transplants in 2019. Learn more: https://t.co/iR6xO02dTC https://t.co/aOPfISdYhs

18 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

Which Shasta are YOU? Check out our new Instagram face effects, available now! https://t.co/POQlqNnN3W

18 hours ago
profile_image

Texas Children's

@TexasChildrens

Join us this Saturday, January 25 for All About HER! (Health, Emotions & Relationships) at @TexasChildrens The Woodlands! To register, visit: https://t.co/7dqWlmWZOg https://t.co/J84AYU8aZW

19 hours ago
profile_image

Texas Children's

@TexasChildrens

Feeling the love on #NationalHugDay 🤗 #AstrosCaravan @OrbitAstros @astros https://t.co/fqD7iWP7AH

19 hours ago
profile_image

TexasHeartInstitute

@Texas_Heart

Belly fat, more than excess weight, may be a factor in the risk for multiple heart attacks, according to a new study. Tackle that belly fat with a heart-healthy diet and exercise. https://t.co/8f3YKQOlPJ via @CNN https://t.co/bDi6EYVVHZ

20 hours ago